This sixth novel in the Mary Russell / Sherlock Holmes series may be my favourite so far. Another strength is the moving theme of battlefield executions during WWI and the experience of war in the trenches, which is poignantly described. Something which may be perceived as a strength or a weakness depending on the perspective of the reader, is the setting the major part of the novel: the country estate of an English aristocrat.
While I've gotten bogged down in The Pirate King previously (book 11), I do intend to break the back of this series this time through.
This is a wonderful period mystery series, and even moreso if you're a fan of Sherlock Holmes. This has become a rather famous quote from the Bible during the past year, and opens this volume: Let justice roll down like the waters, and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.
It actually makes a lot of sense to why O Jerusalem came before this book despite that the story takes place directly after The Moor.
For those who don't know, the Mary Russell series is a Sherlock Holmes pastiche. I loved the theological and thematic elements woven in--in particular into "Justice Hall" one of those fictional great estates, like Pemberly or Manderley, that dominate a narrative, that is a character in a story. But the so very sharp Holmes and Russell, ah that's a great pleasure.
The set-up is fine, using characters from an earlier story to good effect.
A house (Justice Hall) that was very much a character in its own right.
In the combined desire to reread the Holmes/Russell series and still hurry to get to Pirate King, I skipped two books: Letter of Mary I did not have, and O Jerusalem was a departure of setting and plotline, and took place a step out of time in the series, so that I felt safe leaving it out for the time being. (I will get back to it before long.) Such is the beauty of this series that it was perfectly possible to do so and still happily read this sixth book, which not only opens hours after Holmes and Russell return home from the adventures of the fourth book but also picks up the threads of the fifth book, which took place in the middle of the first. Not a need for himself, but that of his closest friend, his all-but brother, who has found himself with no honorable choice but to leave the work he has loved and lived for for decades in the Middle-east to come back to England to play lord of the manor in his family seat, Justice Hall. The problem is that his near-brother believes it will kill him, and he wants Holmes and Russell to come and convince him he should shirk his duty and return to the desert. With a sigh (and some grumbling from Russell), the pair heed the call to investigate the nephew's death and, making no promises, to see what they can do in the matter of convincing Marsh to cede the title that will leave him a virtual zombie. I loved the double lives not only of the "guest" protagonists, but of Holmes and Russell (for nearly every case necessitates some degree of false face) and also of others in the cast. There is the filial love between the cousins, which will not allow Alastair to see Marsh core out the heart of him even for Justice Hall. Love of country which is part of what has kept Marsh and Alastair away from England for so long, and why their nephew went willingly to his death, and why so many, one way or another, lost the lives they had before the war.
The Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series follows a brilliant young woman who becomes the student, then partner, of the great detective. Please note that Laurie checks her Goodreads inbox intermittently, so it may take some time to receive a reply.